Wonder Park has a very nice premise, and has a lot of the ingredients needed to be a decent family film. The animation looks solid, the story is affecting and the plot lends itself to some funny set-pieces. But there’s something missing here, and the end result is a jumbled affair that will appeal to the younger kids but doesn’t realise its full potential.
The story starts off well as we follow June, an imaginative young girl who dreams about making an amusement park full of wonders. When her mother falls ill, June loses that spark and eventually puts aside her childhood dreams. She later discovers that a ripped up plan for a park-ride that she drew has been made real by a group of animals who have created Wonder Park, a magical theme park based on her ideas. But the park has been overrun my marauding monkeys set to destroy the land. Can June rediscover her magic quickly enough to save the day?
This animated family adventure frequently gets distracted by colourful set-pieces. After the first couple, there’s little here that fundamentally pushes the story forward so it does get boring quite quickly. Despite this, the rendering of the theme park itself is very good, and coaster enthusiasts will certainly appreciate the detail that has gone into this. It captures the magic of theme parks quite well, especially at the very end of the story, and it was nice to see unfold.
The vocal cast all do well. Brianna Denski and Sofia Mali voice June (the older and younger versions respectively) and both give the character a nice warmth and relatable charm. There is an impressive roster of stars including Mila Kunis, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Ken Hudson Campbell and Norbert Leo Butz, who all transcend the script and put in fine performances.
The pick of the bunch is Brit legend and former Doctor Who Tom Baker who is a joy to watch as Boomer, with his unmistakable tones adding some much needed gravitas to the whole affair. John Oliver also steals his scenes and is always funny. YouTube stars Caspar Lee and Joe Sugg also feature as a pair of bickering beavers who are definitely tasked with being the comic relief of the film. This was a regional change, with UK audiences getting them as opposed to Hollywood stars Ken Jeong and Keenan Thompson, which is baffling.
The central story about June dealing with a family matter is the film’s strongest point. There’s slight nods to Up and Inside Out in that respect, but without exploring these themes further, we are robbed of some real emotional connection which is a big shame. I think there was much more to be gained in Wonder Park but big ideas seem to fall by the wayside in place of overly-long, zany sequences that don’t progress the story sufficiently. It will provide light entertainment for the younger kids in your clan, but it will be all forgotten not long after you leave the cinema.
Cast: Brianna Denski, Sofia Mali, Tom Baker, Mila Kunis, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Broderick, Caspar Lee, Joe Sugg, Norbert Leo Butz Director: Dylan Brown Writer: Robert Gordon, Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec Certificate: PG Duration: 85mins Released by: Paramount Release date: 8th April 2019